A friend asked me why don't I use Tagalog in writing. For her, I'm a Filipino so I should be writing in Tagalog. It made me think. I thought why my Filipino friend doesn't know that the Philippine's official language is called Filipino and not Tagalog. (Tagalog is a regional language.) Instead of educating her, I just told her. "I'm at ease using English when I write."
My own answer made me think. Why can I write more easily in English when writing? And why does my friend bother telling me to write in Filipino when she doesn't even read my blog?
Why, You Using English?
Since I have plenty of time these days and August is Filipino Language's Month, I took time to reflect why I use English all the time in writing. First, I realized that my sentences are shorter when I use English. My essays would be longer if I use Filipino. I'm worried that no one would read my blog since the entries would look longer. (By the way, Filipino looks like a longer language because we use the consonant-vowel combination when syllabicating words. English uses the letter's sounds in syllabication.)
Modesty aside, I can write pretty well in Filipino. I was awarded "Best in Filipino," when I was in high school. Also, I can teach Filipino's grammar even though I'm an English teacher. I know the correct usage of confusing Filipino prepositions such as "ng" and "nang." (These two are being interchangeably used by most Filipinos.) I can explain how to find the focus of the verb. (This is a grammar lesson that most students hate.) And I can still summarize the Philippine's two greatest novels- Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Modesty aside again, I believe I can call myself a true bilingual- I can communicate fluently both in English and Filipino and not in Taglish. (Taglish is a combination of English and Tagalog words in a sentence.) I didn't set aside learning my native language for the sake of English.
English is Formal, Filipino is Impormal
Despite of these, I still choose to write in English. It's not because I don't like to use Filipino. I just realize now that writing for me is a formal means of communication. At the same time, I grew up in a culture where English is the formal language of communication. So in my mind, writing and English should go together. I'm not comfortable using Filipino in writing because Filipino sounds quite informal.
The Filipinos have a weird way in using English and Filipino. In formal events, the host or emcee would usually use English even though the guests are all Filipinos. It's a formal event so it's time to use English! Even in the schools, students would use English when delivering reports and presentations then they'd revert back to Filipino as soon as they're out of the classroom. In radio and TV, it was only in the past 15 years that Filipino was used in reporting news. English was used for the longest time. In print until now, tabloids use Filipino while broadsheets use English. Presidents used to deliver their speeches in English. No wonder people go to rallies all the time. They can't understand their own leaders. When I watched the impeachment trials, everything was in English you'd think you're in another country. I could give more examples but my main point is this: I view writing as a formal language. Hence, I use English.
Native English Level...Daw
This entry was originally written in Filipino. When I read the original version, it felt like it was very informal. Seems like I was just talking to a friend. I can't help it. I can't change how I view my native language over night. It doesn't mean however that the original version is of lesser value. Truth be told, I do miss speaking to friends in Filipino. I'm using English here all the time and a little Japanese.
Without sounding like a braggart, I think I can communicate in English fluently. I've been asked many times if I've lived in the US or UK. I feel good about myself whenever people say that. By the way, I was also Best in English when I was in high school. Communicating with English speakers all the time made me think that I have native English level. However, I've realized in many instances that though I can communicate in English, I'm still a Filipino at heart. I laugh louder and more genuinely when the jokes are in Filipino. I feel lighter speaking in Filipino. I sound more emotional when I speak in Filipino. I'd be hurt badly if someone curse me in Filipino. I can see myself more when I write in Filipino.
My mother's family has a weird habit which was passed on to me. I express my anger in English. My boyfriend would just be quiet when I'm angry because he said he doesn't understand me anymore. I realize that I speak in English when I'm angry because I filter myself. Speaking in English help me think twice before saying anything hurtful. Also, using English in anger has less impact than if I use Filipino. If my words in anger have been translated in Filipino, my boyfriend and I would have split up long time ago. A lot of people notice too that I sound more polite, kind and genteel when I use English. I don't know why cause when my mouth is full of crazy things when I use Filipino. I was even teased as a bully because of how I speak in Filipino. I can't help it, I'm one crazy Filipino.
Sorry, Susulat Pa Rin Ako in English
Still, after all I've written, I decided to still write in English. My blog statistics would go lower if I use Filipino. Sad to say, Filipinos are not readers. Unless a blog is full of showbiz news, people won't take time to read it. Also, my top readers are not from the Philippines. I'm actually surprised that my country only ranked 4th or 5th in this blog's traffic. I believe I can reach more people around the world by using English.
The next reason for using English is this- I like it! For some unfathomable reasons, I feel more creatively free when I use English in writing. I'm free to make mistakes, to be boring, to sound preachy or to sound dramatic. I can't understand why this is so. This would be much longer if I think about this again.
All I know is this, I may be writing in English but I my heart's still a Filipino.
Here's the Original Version: Bakit English Ako ng English?